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Three Years Until Rugby World Cup 2019, Here's What Ireland's Team Will Look Like

Conor O'Leary
By Conor O'Leary Updated

Today marks three years until the 2019 World Cup in Japan, which comes the day after the anniversary of the Brave Blossoms' victory over South Africa in last year's World Cup.

It's an exciting time in Japanese rugby, especially with the Sunwolves competing in Super Rugby.

Looking ahead to the 2019 rugby showpiece, it's a time when Ireland will have a lot of young talented players coming through. Players like Ultan Dillane, Tadhg Furlong, and Paddy Jackson will have more experience on the international stage, and could provide the backbone to a successful campaign.

Here is who we think Joe Schmidt will bring in his 31-man squad (and their ages), with the players on the fringes listed in a smaller font.

Note: Given that in 2012, I predicted Brian O'Driscoll would make it to the 2015 RWC - so I'm over-correcting with the likes of Johnny Sexton, Jamie Heaslip, Cian Healy, Mike Ross, Rob Kearney, and Rory Best. That's not me saying they can't or I don't want them to.

There is an exciting spine of the team that should have a lot of experience by this point. Jack McGrath, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Peter O'Mahony, CJ Stander, Conor Murray, Paddy Jackson, and Jared Payne will form the basis of the Irish team for the next few years - with two of Bundee Aki, Garry Ringrose, and Robbie Henshaw forming the centres.

Of course, the centre positions is where there is the most competition - with Ulster centres Stuart McCloskey, Luke Marshall, Stuart Olding all in contention; as well as young guns Peter Robb, Sam Arnold, and Rory Parata. In other positions, it's encouraging to see quality players contending - who knows how could Niyi Adeolokun could be in three years?


Ireland are blessed with options at centre, prop and in the back row - but the lack of depth in other areas is a concern. Hooker is the biggest problem after Rory Best - with Sean Cronin's effectiveness reducing as he ages. Rob Herring, Duncan Casey, and James Tracy are the best young options across the provinces - but there isn't a track record of developing hookers. Jamison Gibson-Park hides the lack of scrumhalves across Ireland - which perhaps explains the Ruan Pienaar decision, and the post Paul O'Connell era needs James Ryan to fulfil his immense potential.

Ryan is just one player that I'm expecting to emerge over the next three years. They include Dan Leavy - who has started this season strongly - Jacob Stockdale, Jack O'Donoghue, Bill Johnston, and Andrew Porter. Colm Hogan is the youngest player mentioned - the full-back has been outstanding for Munster U20s this season.

March's version of the 2019 squad


See Also: Defeated U20s Will Form The Backbone Of Ireland's 2023 World Cup Squad On Home Soil

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